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Paris: Restaurants for vegetarians, vegans, and travelers with dietary restrictions

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Le Grenier de Notre Dame offers vegetarian food in Paris. Photo by ewanmcdowall.
Le Grenier de Notre Dame offers vegetarian food in Paris. Photo by ewanmcdowall.

Going to a restaurant when you have some sort of dietary restriction can be difficult enough as it is, let alone when you’re in a foreign country where you may not speak the local language. Never fear, we’ll show you how to find restaurants in Paris where you can eat freely or simply communicate your circumstances “en français.”

Vegetarian/Vegan restaurants in Paris

Being a vegetarian in France is something of a punchline, and veganism is all but unheard of. However, there are some options for herbivores in Paris. A vegetarian friend of mine recommends Macéo (15 Rue des Petits Champs) and Brasserie Lutetia (45 Boulevard Raspail), both of which have vegetarian menus.

She further suggests using the website Happy Cow to search for restaurants in Paris. The site lists four vegan eateries, and includes several other vegetarian and veg-friendly options.

While it may not be “real” French cuisine, you can also try Asian restaurants, which may be more used to the idea of meat-less dishes. Check out the Chinese and Vietnamese places in Belleville in the 19th and 20th Arrondissements.

Celiac/Wheat-free dining in Paris

My dad is a celiac, so when he came to visit me he looked up gluten-free restaurants on CeliacHandbook.com. Le Charlain (23 Rue Clauzel) was on the list, and we enjoyed a great meal there – with a delicious flour-less chocolate cake for dessert.

Celiac disease is not as well-known in France as in places like Italy, but it is possible to find wheat-free dishes in most restaurants. Just tell your server, “Je suis allergique à la farine” (I’m allergic to flour). Stay away from mysterious sauces, and (depending on the restaurant’s recipe) you most likely won’t be able to eat the “frites,” either.

Disappointingly for my dad, we couldn’t find any bakeries in Paris that make gluten-free products. Naturalia, a chain of natural food stores, sells some wheat-free bread products, but they generally aren’t the same quality you’d find in the United States.

Lactose Intolerance and Other Allergies

Although the French are fond of cheeses and cream sauces, it should be easy to avoid dairy products in most Paris restaurants if you make your intolerance known. Simply say “J’ai une intolérance au lactose” (I’m lactose intolerant). Another option is to try kosher meat restaurants, such as those you would find in the neighborhood of the Rue des Rosiers.

Similarly, for other food allergies it’s just a matter of telling your server. Start with “Je suis allergique aux…” (I’m allergic to…). Some common allergy words include “noix” (nuts), “fruits de mer” (seafood), and “graines de sésame” (sesame seeds).

Tell Us

Are you a vegetarian, vegan, or have a food allergy? How was your experience eating out in Paris? Let us know!

About the author

About the author: Liz Webber is a freelance journalist living and working in Paris. She has previously worked for the International Herald Tribune and Budget Travel.

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3 thoughts on “Paris: Restaurants for vegetarians, vegans, and travelers with dietary restrictions”

  1. My husband is seriously lactose intolerant. We have several friends who travel to France every year, and they tell us it will be difficult for him to get dairy-free food. We’ve been told to write out cards explaining his condition, practicing our pronunciation, etc. Our friends say, they will still serve you what they have… dairy-free be damn.

    Does anyone know of a reliable restaurant in Paris that will serve dairy-free menu? Or any suggestions.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Recent Reads: Backstage at The Nutcracker, Vegetarian Dining in Paris & Christmas in Bethlehem – Travel Blissful | Travel Blissful

  3. I’m a life-long vegetarian and have found some cool ways to eat healthy without making a fuss as I travel. I also lived in Paris for 9 months, so here are some thoughts to add to your article.

    * I never ate in veggie restaurants; they were too far from where I worked. Every restaurant has a vegetarian option. I even had to eat in a beef restaurant on occasion (as you say, it’s something of a punchline for the French, so I had to swallow my pride and be social with my Parisian coworkers wherever they chose). The beef restaurant still had a very French “salade de chèvre chaud”; the hot goat’s cheese gave the feeling of having a hot meal even though it was still a salad.

    * As well as Asian, I ate regularly in Indian and Italian restaurants which are extremely good for catering for veggies. Italian restaurants / pizzerias are all over the place. Even pizza hut is a nice filling option.
    * Paris is one of the few places in the world that I have been refused to be given a slight alteration of something on the menu that looked tasty if they could prepare it without chicken. It happened a few times and I was shocked and annoyed each time. It’s important to remember that the restaurant business is a pride thing in France, requesting a change in the menu is like you are insulting their well thought out plan. They would rather lose a paying customer than change “perfection”.

    For other ideas you can see the article I wrote.

    Reply

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